The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue. –Dorothy Parker
For the past couple of months, I’ve been obsessed with this quote I read in a book about feminism. And I got to say my brain is full of quotes because my selective memory has decided that’s one of the few things I can memorize, but these words have resonated in my head louder than normal. Maybe because it is phrased in a simple and clever way, maybe because it is so relatable to me; I just haven’t been able to stop thinking about it every morning. It has became my morning routine: reach to my phone, turn off the alarm, think about Dorothy Parker’s quote, reluctantly open my eyes… hello world, I need to brush my teeth.
I keep telling people that if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. I don’t do this to hear the usual comments that follow this confession telling me to stop lying and accept that I am a very likable person, but because I truly believe it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a statement about what an awful human I am or my many dirty little secrets (less dirty than little, but secrets after all); no, it has nothing to do with that. I say it because I know that I’m a person of different masks, and I’m sure at least one of them is in direct contradiction with the version a certain person sees and likes.
Since I was little I understood the power of using the correct mask for a particular occasion, of behaving as people expects me to behave, of hiding my real feelings and thoughts behind a cute smile and a witty comment. People will talk about you, don’t worry BUT please be a good girl (i.e. smile and make sure you’re in control of the narrative, i.e. do what it is expected from you in this context, no matter if you feel like it or not, DO IT). Perception is a powerful but dangerous thing. After weren’t we warned about this by Socrates and Plato many years ago? We can’t trust our senses, because they lie; we all lie.
Now, I don’t think I am the only one who has a different mask for every context. I actually consider this chameleonic attitude one of the most basic human instincts. We all need to survive, we all want to thrive in life. What makes me different is that I am aware of my color-changing mechanism and I use it to achieve exactly what I want. Call me utilitarian, but I know how to make the odds play on my favor and that gives me inner peace.
The truth is that I’m a very insecure self-conscious individual who overthinks everything and measures the possible impact of everything I do and say (unless I’m under the influence of sugar, alcohol, and/or love). I am analytic, I ponder possible outcomes, I try to keep my craziness and insecurity under control, I pick whatever is best for my immediate happiness. Maybe that’s why I chose to wake up every morning, brush my teeth, sharpen my tongue, and wear whatever color will make look good that day.